pression with the Egyptian focus on content and developed an artistic approach intended to inspire and celebrate their cultural and individual achievements. The art of the Middle Ages sought to replace the Paganism of the fallen Roman Empire with themes of Christian religious myths, giving the practice of art religious, political and educational purposes. This gave way to the explosion of art during the Renaissance which was inspired by the re-discovery of ancient art forms and practices (Gombrich, 1995). This skip through history illustrates how art can be used for many purposes and is often inspired or developed to build on the past. These ideas can be found in a comparison of paintings created on a similar theme such as Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” and Edouard Manet’s “Olympia,” all of which seek to reflect and define their culture’s conception of beauty and expectations of the female gender ideal.
The period of the Renaissance is generally recognized as occurring between 1300 and 1500 in Italy. In the years between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the birth of the Renaissance, artworks typically had a very religious theme, focusing almost exclusively on figures from the Bible. With the discovery of some of the classic art and architecture of Rome, there was renewed interest in the deities that had once been important to these people. Venus, the goddess of love, was reborn in statues and paintings throughout this period. Perhaps one of the most well-known of these resurrections is Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (1485). Although this wasn’t the first image of Venus created during the Renaissance, Botticelli chose to display Venus in the nude in deliberate reference to her classical poses. However, he is wisely not so blatant as to have her standing with no discretion. In Botticelli’s highly Christianized society, the only nudes generally accepted by the powers that be were Adam, Eve or the crucified